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'Tread Carefully'

CTA: FCC Should Forget Receiver Rules, Focus on Voluntary Standards

CTA told the FCC the “record is clear” that voluntary, industry-led standards are the best approach to improving receiver performance, in reply comments posted Thursday in docket 22-137. The FCC logged more than 20 replies in the proceeding, on a notice of inquiry on receiver performance and potentially standards adopted by commissioners 4-0 in April (see 2204210049). Other comments largely echoed CTA’s arguments. Initial comments were posted a month ago (see 2206270045).

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Industry-led standards are achieving increasing levels of receiver performance and spectral efficiency, leading to increasing innovation,” CTA said: “Industry is best positioned to meet the Commission’s goal of enhanced receiver performance because manufacturers have tremendous market incentive to produce receivers that function in challenging RF environments.”

The Aerospace Industries Association and other aviation groups said initial comments “almost uniformly support primary reliance on voluntary, consensus-based standards for receiver interference immunity performance and voice opposition to the adoption of receiver performance mandates.” For most industries “strong incentives already exist for manufacturers and users to achieve a high level of receiver interference immunity performance while receiver performance mandates would undermine innovations and U.S. competitiveness,” the aviation groups said.

Promulgating standards “exceeds the bounds” of the FCC’s “actual authority as captured in the plain language and statutory construction of the Communications Act,” Deere & Co. argued. “Tread carefully, as declaring mandatory technical standards would serve to chill advancement and innovation in various critical sectors, including agricultural manufacturing, crop production and precision agriculture,” Deere said.

Refrain from imposing heavy-handed, inflexible receiver performance regulations that would increase costs and inhibit innovation,” CTIA said. Competition is already driving a move to efficient use of spectrum, the group said: “Market incentives and the Commission’s flexible approach have fostered innovation and competitive differentiations in commercial wireless receivers that might otherwise not exist in a regime where the Commission imposes strict receiver requirements.”

The record contains many examples of industry standards bodies that work to develop standards that promote efficient spectrum use, including through efficient receiver performance design,” the Telecommunications Industry Association said. Several commenters cite the 3rd Generation Partnership Project “and its impact on promoting new technologies such as 5G through the use of receiver performance standards and testing,” TIA said. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute is doing similar work, the group said. “Receiver standards are not a silver bullet for spectrum management policy,” said the Utilities Technology Council. Initial comments “emphasize that industry standards are being developed and regulatory requirements are unnecessary and potentially counterproductive and arbitrary,” UTC said.

Silicon Flatirons' Pierre de Vries urged the FCC to explore in more depth the use of interference limits and harm claim thresholds (HCTs). “Issue a policy statement that documents [FCC] assumptions and expectations about coexistence between radio systems,” de Vries urged: “The Commission should then pilot interference limits in a limited-scope reallocation or ad hoc rule change. A quantitative interference limit can be used to negotiate trade-offs between transmitter and receiver concerns. Once it has developed expertise and confidence in RF environment methods by using interference limits, the Commission can move on to using HCTs in technical rules.”

The Hudson Institute suggested that creating “clearer property rights for receivers would reduce interference in American wireless networks, to the benefit of all Americans.” The filing was led by economist and former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. The FCC would probably need additional statutory authority to regulate receivers and not just transmitters, Hudson said. “If such an expansion was done poorly, regulation of receiver standards would certainly harm the communications sector and consequently, the American economy. But if done well, regulation of receiver standards could be viewed as clarifying economic property rights.”